If you have just saved someone’s life you might expect, at the very least, some words of congratulation even if, as a lifeguard, you were just doing your job.
But when 21-year-old Tomas Lopez pulled a man from the water off the Floridan coast this week he was canned from the $8.25 an-hour job he was hoping would pay him through college.
“If I see someone in danger and I have the ability to help them, I’m going to help them. I’m not going to worry about jurisdiction or any other nonsense like that,” he said.
The problem for Tom was he went to the rescue of someone out of his zone, endangering Jeff Ellis Associates, his private lifeguard company’s insurance liability. Tom knew he would be sacked before making the rescue, but as he says himself, ‘When someone’s dying you don’t follow company policy, dial 9-11, and hope for the best.’
On hearing the news a fellow lifeguard was asked by a journalist if he would do the same. When he replied yes, he was sacked on the spot, prompting at least one other of Hallandale beach’s baywatchers to quit in protest.
Lopez’s act has made him something of a national hero, yet he says he really does not want to go back to the Ellis office to get his final paycheck.